a surprise call 2 weeks early (Baby Arabella Lee)

3:15am on.the.dot.

I received a call from a mama, Shannon, who was supposed to be due on April 4th.

I jumped out of bed and answered her frantic call. “I’m in labour, the midwife is on her way over to check me!”

We hung up and I waited sooo patiently for her to text me with an update.

An hour later I received a text: “I’m in active labour and we’re heading to the hospital now!”

I should have told my husband that I received a text from her earlier that day saying that she “had Braxton hicks SO BAD! like 12 times the previous day,” but that this day in particular wasn't so bad…

…But I didn’t.

So when I told him I was leaving at 5:00am to head to the hospital, he was somewhat shocked. I didn’t expect to be photographing a birth 2 weeks before this mama’s due date!

Shannon and I met back when she was only 22 weeks pregnant. She told me during her consultation how important and special this pregnancy was to her. She mentioned that she had 3 miscarriages before this one, and wanted SO BADLY to capture this rainbow baby’s birth in photographs and memories.

I took notes about her birth plan wishes, who might be present in her birth space and any other details that could help me prepare to photograph the birth of her baby.


I arrived at the hospital close to 6:00am just after she did and found her mother consoling her through a contraction.

Shannon’s mother, Crystal, helping her through another contraction at the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

Shannon’s mother, Crystal, helping her through another contraction at the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

Hospital birth at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital

Hospital birth at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital

Shannon had a room full of support people. Her partner, mother, best friend, and her best friend’s partner. Her partner, Winston, was so helpful in getting her through contractions.

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She spent most of the morning managing her contractions. One wave at a time. It was clear to me that Shannon and her mom were incredibly close. It made me a little sad knowing that my own mother couldn’t be in the operating room when my daughter was born out of my belly (cesarean).

Shannon riding each wave with her mother and partner close by for support.

Shannon riding each wave with her mother and partner close by for support.

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Eventually as the contractions were getting stronger and more frequent, she started to take some nitrous oxide for pain relief. It seemed to help her for a good part of her journey through active labour.

Back rubs and nitrous oxide helped this mama get through some of her labour.

Back rubs and nitrous oxide helped this mama get through some of her labour.

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When things got really intense, Shannon had an epidural which made contractions a lot easier to manage.

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Around 11:00am, the midwife checked Shannon and she was fully dilated. And around 1:30 she started pushing.

Hospital birth at Orillia Soldiers’ Hospital

Hospital birth at Orillia Soldiers’ Hospital

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At 1:59pm on March 23rd, Arabella Lee was finally born weighing 6 lbs 14 ounces.

The moment a mother was born.

The moment a mother was born.

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Life transitioning from womb to earth.

Life transitioning from womb to earth.

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Baby Arabella latching for the first time.

Baby Arabella latching for the first time.

That gaze, though.

That gaze, though.

Shannon’s support people.

Shannon’s support people.

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I teared up a number of times during this birth. I was there for 10 hours and was exhausted when I got back to my car. A quick phone call to my own mother had me in tears telling her about my experience as I pumped milk out of my breasts for my own baby. It was such an amazing day!

I can’t say how thankful I am that Shannon and Winston wanted me in their special birth space to document the birth of their first baby (rainbow baby!). I feel so honoured that people let me be a part of such an important happening in their lives.

My job is absolutely amazing.